Yesterday

Definition of the adverb Yesterday according to Webster:
1) on the day past; on the day preceding today
2) at a time not long past; only a short time ago

Definition of the noun Yesterday according to Webster:
1) the day last past; the day next before the present
2) recent time; time not long past
3) past time – usually used in plural

Definition of the word Yesterday according to Jon:
1) a movie
2) a song
3) what we will call today tomorrow

No, I haven’t recently received a degree in English nor Time Travel. Although time travel would be pretty cool. Imagine going back to yesterday and reliving that day over again while remembering everything that already occurred on that day. Sounds like a good plot for a movie. I’ll contact Bill Murray tomorrow on that.

A Movie:

What has made me nostalgic tonight for yesterday was triggered by seeing the movie Yesterday this evening. The basic plot is a struggling musician is hit by a bus at the exact moment the whole world suffers a mysterious power outage. When the lights come back on our musician finds himself in the hospital and in a world where a number of things never happened yesterday nor ever. Most significant of which was the music of the Beatles. I know, you’re thinking what a terrifying world that would be. Talk about your Hard Day’s Night!

I won’t give away much more of the movie than to say it’s a love story. With some really great music. And a message of being true to yourself no matter what situations you find yourself in. And as my wife Barb used to say, ‘You know, there’s a lesson in that.’ It’s a good movie and I encourage you to see it. But please skip the butter substance on the popcorn. I did not and I’m out of Tums.

The Song:

It’s pretty obvious the title of the movie comes from the Beatle’s song Yesterday. In my life (that’s another really good song), Yesterday has always been a meaningful tune. One of my favorites. I’ve envisioned myself playing the song on the piano and singing it just the way Lennon and McCartney wrote it. Sad undertone about lost love. I’ve loved the song since I was a teenager for its simple elegance but when Barb finished her journey with cancer in 2017, the song took on very real meaning for me.

Suddenly
I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh yesterday came suddenly

If you’ve lost someone that was your other half, someone that made you whole, then I’m guessing the song gets to you like it gets to me. It brings feelings of loss and sadness just as fresh as on the day that yesterday changed my future. It brings back memories of walking beside her through her treatments and through her decline. It brings to today the emptiness I hoped was just in the past. “Why she had to go, I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.’

But, and thank God there is a but, when I hear the song it also brings back to me the memories before her cancer. Our meeting at Mickey’s the first time. Our wedding. Our kids being born. All wonderful moments in a life well lived through both easy and challenging times. That’s what life is. A combination of good days and bad days. Of living the usual and surviving the unusual. Of not letting the sad moments of yesterday prevent the possible happiness of tomorrow. And that brings me to my third definition of yesterday.

What We Will Call Today Tomorrow

Have you ever thought about today what you will think about this day tomorrow? What I should have done more of, have done differently, or have not done at all. My mom once told me to really think about what I’m about to do and the possible consequences before I do it. It’s good advice and after surviving not listening to her advice for quite a few years, I started to implement her logic and I’m sure it has saved me from some embarrassing and regretful situations. Thank you, mom!

We can and should remember our experiences of yesterday as they are part of us and have shaped us into who we are today. But they don’t have to get in the way of who we can be tomorrow. We take yesterday with us through today and into tomorrow as we continue our journey in life. I’m comforted to think that even though my wife is not physically with me now, she is with me in my memories of yesterday and encouraging me to make new memories while living today and tomorrow.

The road is long and winding (another great song) and as long as I’m able to travel it, I’m going to do so with the strength I’ve gathered from yesterday and with a hope for tomorrow. So that when today is tomorrow’s yesterday, I can smile and be happy with where I’ve been and how I’ve done. Oh, I believe in yesterday. And today. And tomorrow.

So What About Tomorrow:

Tomorrow, or actually this coming Sunday, I have a few changes happening. The Doodle and I are moving out of our apartment and will begin full-time RV living on the road in our Class A motorhome. I’m naming the motorhome Terra because she is a Fleetwood Terra model. I have been encouraged to call her Terry by one of my nieces as my middle name is Terrence and Terry was my nickname as a kid. She thinks that would be pretty funny and fitting but I’m going to stick with Terra. After all, I’d much rather say I live with a goddess named Terra (check your Roman mythology folks). Wouldn’t you?!

Going to full-time RV living has been on my mind for a number of years and life’s road has led me to the opportunity to give it a shot. Before her cancer hit, I had talked Barb into RV living when we both retired. I know she will get many laughs watching me from above as I learn from my mistakes. I’m assuming you’ve seen Robin Williams in the movie RV. Enough said.

It will be interesting and I’m both excited and terrified but it really feels like something I’m meant to do.¬† As we travel the U.S., I’ll be writing about people I meet along the road and their life experiences as well as my own. And Izzy the Doodle will have her own byline to contribute from time to time her thoughts on living with me on the road. We have a bet on who’s posts will get the most likes. I just need a little help from my friends (yes another really good song). Don’t let me down, folks.

So until next time, see you down the road….

Literally!

The Struggle Is Real

This mantra has become commonplace over the past few years, especially in my kids’ generation. My thirty-something daughter recently text me about something and at my age I’ve forgotten what it was exactly, but my reply to her was simply ‘the struggle is real’. She replied back that I had never sounded more millennial.

Me millennial?
Made me LOL! #word

Struggles have been a part of the human condition for as long as the Earth has been spinning. The world was doing just fine right up to the time Adam and Eve ate that apple. Just think what our lives would be like today if they had never indulged in that forbidden fruit. We’d all be living in a world of beautiful gardens. Living in peace. And harmony. And naked. Sorry to plant that seed in your imagination but hey we’d be used to it. Right?

If you’re like me, struggles come in groups or seasons in your life. Seems we’re on a journey through gentle valleys of peace and then all of a sudden we’re climbing up towering mountains of struggles. Wouldn’t it be nice to always live in a place halfway between the valleys and mountains? Still peaceful enough to enjoy the higher view?

A number of times I have lived in that place. Things were going pretty well. No real hardships or burdens. My job was going well. Our family needs were being met. The kids were growing. Our marriage was exciting. We were just enjoying life and coasting along. I’m thankful for those times and the loved ones I shared them with.

But then things would start to change. Finances became an issue. A job changed was needed. Kids struggled in school. Pressure was put on our marriage. Life’s struggles seemed to first trickle in then soon enough a full fledge flood was roaring into our lives. The struggle became very real.

Those times of struggle can be tough and overwhelming. Many times we feel there is no way out of the mess we’re in. How in the world will we ever overcome this and get back to better times? Get back to the peace in the valley again. Those struggles are very real when we’re living in the midst of them.

I’ve determined from my life experiences that the key to handling struggles in life goes back again to the beginning. Before that darn apple. Back to when the world had no struggles. Back to the garden. Back to living in peace with the world. And its Creator.

If you are a follower of the Christ like I am, you probably long for the garden and living in peace with the world and God. It’s hard, I would suggest the hardest thing we will ever try to do. Knowing and truly living the peace of Christ.

I would argue no human since Christ walked the earth has been able to fully live in peace. Many have come close but I think all have struggled and fallen short. But that should not hinder us from continuing our struggle to live with Him. For Him.

Our calling is perhaps not to overcome our struggles but to allow God to help us through them. To walk so closely with Him that we can lean on Him when we need to and allow Him to carry us when our struggle is too much. I’m not sure if my thinking is theologically sound but this is what I’ve come to understand.

Did you ever think about how human kind had our first shot at getting it right in a garden (Eden) and then how God himself went to another garden (Gethsemane) to take upon Himself all of our burdens, all of our struggles, all of our sin, to get it right for us. Guess that’s why I really love spending times in gardens. I’m drawn to them. I’m drawn to Him.

If you find yourself in a real struggle right now, try going to a garden, either in your community or in your mind, and talk to your Creator. He knows your struggle is real. He’s dealt with it before. And He will get you through.

Somewhere on a mountain side, just about half way up from the valley below, is that place, your place of peace. Where your struggles aren’t so great and you can sit back and enjoy the view knowing that peace, His peace, is also real. The Real Deal.

Now that’s the true #word.

See you down the road my friends….

At The Surface

There really is something about being by water that is calming for me. Be that an ocean, river, or lake they all seem to bring me to a place of calmness and peace. Healing waters or perhaps just a restoration of balance. I really love being by the water and it’s kind of ironic. You see I can’t swim.

I guess I’m okay as long as I’m by the water and not in it. Although donning a life vest and floating along I’m very okay with. Gotta have that one life saving device that keeps me from going under and drowning. I prefer the orange colored life preserver myself as it seems to compliment my complexion. Pearly white.

This past Sunday while listening to our pastor give his message on parenting, my mind began to wander. I believe my wandering thoughts were triggered by something the pastor said about living in the moment with your children. So of course my thoughts immediately jumped to spending some time away from my beautiful loving kids. Guess a Freudian moment for me. See pastor Mark, you never know how your message will motivate us. ūüėĄ

Being so inspired, I went home after church, packed up clothes, supplies, and Izzy the Doodle and hit the road. Once I was driving, I headed East and decided to go to the Chesapeake Bay Area for five days. Not my first spontaneous road trip but the first I hadn’t at least researched a little before leaving. So the first time my bladder and the Doodle’s needed a rest stop, I took time to google a place to stay and booked an AirBnb on Gwynn Island in Virginia before continuing East.

Why Chesapeake Bay you might ask? Simply because I had never been there before and it was water. Plus the weather looked a lot better for the week than it did in Central Ohio. It’s now Wednesday and I’m very happy with my choice. Temps in the 70s, sunshine, cool breezes, and the peaceful sounds of water lapping on the rocks and birds singing in the trees. And very beautiful sunsets!

This trip has nothing to do about seeing the sights or finding entertainment. This trip is about slowing down and relaxing. About re-centering myself to what my life and living really should be about. A getaway. A retreat. A trip to focus on the water and allow it to restore my body and spirit. And a time to drink in more of the water of life.

As I enjoy this afternoon I’m watching the water in the bay. On the surface, it’s pretty calm and that brings me peace. Some moments the wind increases and the bay waters begin to wave up from the blowing. The water seems to speed up on its journey. And that makes me think of my life and how outside things or events can influence the flow of my living.

We all experience the hectic life. Where we are going with the current trying to keep ourselves a float. Sometimes it’s easy and we float along enjoying the journey. But other times things move too quickly, the waters get rough, and our sense of peace becomes panic as we just try to keep our head above water. And sometimes it’s so rough we truly feel like the waves are overwhelming us and we’re running out of breath. My life has been like all of these over the past four years.

But today and for the past few months, my journey on the water has been fairly peaceful. Watching the waters of the bay I’m reminded to look just not on the surface but also below. You see while the wind may be pushing up ever rougher waves on the surface, below the surface it’s calmer. And the deeper we go the more calm the water becomes. It’s in that deeper water we can be at peace. We just have to figure out how to breathe down there until we can come back to the surface.

I’m beginning to discover that when things get rough in life, I shouldn’t hold my breath until it passes. I’m learning that when life’s waves start to overwhelm me, that’s the time I need to dive below the surface to the place where I can breathe in peace. Where the water is calmer as I get closer to its source. I need to trust that the waves will not keep me down. That because I know the source of the water of life, I’m going to resurface and will be able to sustain the waves when they come again.

We all have access to that source. It’s up to each of us to not panic because of the waves but to dive deep under the waves and seek the source of peace. To get close and breathe it in.

What is the source? For me, it’s my faith. My faith in a God that is above and greater than any waves in my life. Knowing that as I get closer to Him, through prayer and reading His book, He gives me the water and breath I need to survive. And not just survive but thrive once again on the surface of the waters of living.

As I spend my last two days at the bay, I’m thankful for the water. For the way it ebbs and flows. Even when the waves get rough I’m thankful because I know they will eventually calm. It’s up to me to find the peace that sustains and thankfully I’m finding it more and more.

And so can you. Dive deep my friends.

See you down the road….

Just Another Day….

Remember the song Another Day by Paul McCartney? It’s been going through my head off and on all day. Catchy little tune but the lyrics are rather sad. A woman living each day the same, over and over while waiting on the man of her dreams to come and break the sad spell cast over her life. The song ends the way it began. Without her hero. Just another day.

Today, November 29, has been in many ways just another day for me. I woke up at the usual time which is always 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. I fed and walked the Doodle. Got showered and dressed to go to my retirement job (which honestly is a blast) at my daughter’s play cafe for kids called Hoot Studio. Came home, fed and walked the Doodle again. Paid the end of the month bills and am now settling down to write a little before going to sleep. Just another day.

But also today a number of uncommon things came my way. You see today is the 30th celebration of my 29th birthday and I’ve been blessed by many birthday wishes from some pretty fantastic folks. A group of preschoolers singing happy birthday for me. A good friend taking me to lunch. Facebook comments and birthday well wishes. Happy Birthday texts from family and friends. All wonderful reminders that today was just another day which was made very special by the kindness of others. And there lies the answer for the woman in the song, for me, and for each of you. Just another day of kindness.

There were a couple of moments today between the happy birthday wishes, where I felt sad and even lonely. Sort of like the woman in the song. Remorse crept into my emotions as I thought about another birthday, another day, without the loved ones I’d lost over the past few years. Tears began to swell up in my eyes and I had to find a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes. I had not expected these emotions to come to me today but they did and tonight I’ve been reflecting on them. And with that, another song has started playing in my mind.

Three Dog Night did a song back in the 70s called One. It’s a reflection on missing someone that was in your life but is not there anymore. There are two lines from the song that have been resonating with me tonight; “It’s just no good anymore since you went away, Now I spend my time just making rhymes of yesterday”.

When you miss someone very much, perhaps with all of your heart, it’s easy to spend your time, your thoughts, living in the past. Clinging to the past. Missing what has been.

Memories of those we’ve loved are wonderful things to be cherished but what I have learned is that continuing to focus deeply and entirely each day in those memories keeps us from living the life we have now. A life that has been created from and because of those past loves and experiences. A life that needs to be lived in the now. To its fullest. Not as one just getting through another day but with hope built up from the kindness of others that has been given to us.

So with tomorrow and the beginning of my 31st year of being 29, I am choosing to live each day not as Just Another Day of being One but as a day to be thankful for the lives and loves in my past. Living in the now with the hope, the joy, of the kindness that has been given to me. And choosing to do my best to bring kindness into the days of those around me. How about you join me.

See you down the road….

A Walk and A Talk

The sunsets the past two nights here in Central Ohio have been gorgeous. So many hues and colors. The science behind why this happens is very interesting but for me it’s the beauty of it that amazes me the most. I just have to pause and give myself time to take it in. To be awed and inspired.

Tonight while walking the Doodle and watching the kaleidoscope of color in the western sky, I found myself thinking about the past two weeks and the people and places I’ve encountered.

I recently returned home from a trip across the Northwestern United States and during that trip I visited places and met people that were truly beautiful and awe inspiring.

I traveled by plane, train, and automobile (sounds like a movie huh). I visited Glacier National Park, Multnomah Falls, Mount Saint Helens, and Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

I saw the beauty of plains and prairies, mountain peaks and lakes, pristine forests, mighty rivers, and a glistening ocean. So many spectacular places that moved me, many to tears, by their splendor and majesty.

I was inspired by many people I meet as well. Daniel, a Native American Blackfoot, who shared some of his life story about growing up and living on reservation. Neil, a driver and baggage handler at East Glacier Lodge, who made a living working seasonal jobs across the country. I met Martha and Karl as well as Ron, at the two Airbnbs I stayed with and was blessed by their hospitality and kindness. And I was happily surprised to meet up with an old young friend, Austin, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a few years.

My trip was a wonderful journey which allowed me to see some pretty amazing places and get to know some pretty cool folks. And my trip has also given me the opportunity to think about all the places I’ve been and people I’ve known along my life journey. I think it’s when we reflect back on our lives, that we truly see and appreciate where we have been and who we have known. And helps us to better understand who we have become.

The message our senior pastor shared this morning was a message focused on belonging. He talked about how in today’s society, we are encouraged and even pressured, to do everything on our own. To be self-reliant and independent. To be strong. To be successful. To be a force of one.

He went on to explain that as a follower of Christ, we are called to find our strength, our greatest potential, not by going it alone but by belonging. Belonging to a God that loves us and belonging to one another through love. That the strength found in belonging is greater than anything we can achieve on our own. My life experiences show me this is true.

I see it this way. Through belonging, our individual strength is increased because of the support and encouragement we receive from those around us. Those we belong to. And in return, our increase strengthens the group of those we belong to.

It’s a cycle that is like a mountain which over time continues to strengthen and build itself higher with each new uplifting addition. And like a river that continues to grow deeper and wider from the inflow of its tributaries as it flows to the ocean. And like a forest that grows stronger and closer with each new sapling. Belonging to someone and something greater than ourselves. This is where strength comes from.

Tonight, once the sun had slipped below the horizon and the night sky began to replace the setting colors, the Doodle and I finished our walk. While we were walking, I talked with God about what I was thinking and feeling. I thanked Him for the beauty of His creation and the people he has brought into my life so far. I thanked Him for accepting me, no, make that saving me, so that I can now belong in a family, His family, where I can become stronger with those that love me. And I asked Him to continue to guide me to the places I still have to go and people I still have to meet.

The world around us is an amazing thing which can be overpowering at times. But you don’t have to go it alone. May we all be strengthened, inspired, and awed in belonging to God and one another.

See you down there road….

How Sweet It Is

I woke up this morning with James Taylor.

Singing in my mind that is. I’ve always enjoyed his music and this morning I could hear his song “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”. My foot started tapping which apparently annoyed Izzy the Doodle enough that she jumped off the bed. She must¬†not be a fan of the original JT.

Here are a bit of the lyrics:

‘I close my eyes at night wondering where would I be without you in my life.
Everything I did was just a bore, everywhere I went it seems I’d been there before.
But you brighten up for me all of my days with a love so sweet in so many ways,
I want to stop and thank you baby, I just want to stop and thank you baby.
How sweet it is to be loved by you, feels so fine. How sweet it is to be loved by you.’

This is one of a number of songs throughout my life that has always picked me up. I can’t help but to start singing along and let the song put a smile on my face. Someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll pull up beside me at a stop light while this song is playing. I expect you to sing along with me so don’t be shy. Put the windows down and join me in making a joyful noise!

Do you have a song that picks you up? Why does it? Perhaps when you first heard it, it really connected with you. Or perhaps you heard it during an emotional time in your life and it’s been your¬†goto song ever since. Or maybe it’s a family favorite or a song you and your childhood¬†friends have great memories around.

Songs are memories. And tied to them are emotions. Many if not most songs have emotions as part of their title or in their lyrics. Songs such as:

“Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake (the other JT)
“Happy” by Pharrell

“Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
“Yesterday” by The Beatles
“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams

And thousands more across all genres of music. No matter your favorite artist or style of music, I’m sure there are certain songs that will forever open your mind and emotions to another place. Take you back to a time when you experienced something that made an impact on your life. A life-changing moment.

James Taylor’s version of “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” has now made a new emotional connection with me. In addition to being that happy little jingle that always made me sing, it has also become an anthem since losing my wife Barb. We would dance to this song everytime we heard it. Weddings, parties, clubs, and once on a public sidewalk. I promise it wasn’t too embarrassing.

Wonderful memories of a love so sweet in so many ways that continue on even after the grave. I really do wonder where would I be without having had her in my life all those years. So many great memories and experiences that will stay with me no matter what comes. I’m very thankful for that.

So which song connects with you? I’d love to hear about your song and your story so please leave a comment to share. And while you’re doing so, queue up that song of yours. Play it loud and sing along. Get that feeling inside your bones and go electric wavy when you turn it on. Dang there comes that other JT! He’s pretty good too.

See you down the road.

When you’ve only got a hundred years to live

The song 100 Years by Five For Fighting has been playing in my head almost all of 2017. Thoughts about life and living have been very prevalent this past year due to Barb’s passing back in March, her dad’s passing at the beginning of November, and now today,¬†reaching my¬†58th birthday. Saying it’s been an eventful year is a bit of an¬†understatement.

For me, today hasn’t really been anything out of the ordinary. I woke up before the alarm went off, had to chase my dog Izzy back home from her¬†morning walkabout, went to work, sat in meetings almost all day, came home, let Izzy out and chased her back home again (need to get the invisible fence working), made supper, and then went to choir practice since it’s Wednesday night. Just another day and I’m thankful for it. And I’m thankful for the Graeters Buckeye milkshake I picked up on the way home. Happy Birthday to me!

Today there have been moments of laughter and happiness as friends wished me a happy birthday but also moments of sadness as I experienced this first birthday without Barb. The year of firsts continues.

I missed her smile today and the way she would say happy birthday to me. I missed her annual reminder that on my 30th birthday, she gave me the best birthday present ever. The birth of our son. And¬†a week late at that, as she had¬†‘held him in’ just long enough to be born on my birthday. She usually had a loving smirk on her face¬†when making that statement and I really missed that too. I missed just being with her today.

When you find that one person that really does complete you and you spend many, so many loving years with them and then they are gone, it’s, well it’s like part of yourself is gone. You’re only part of a person and everyday happenings really feel kind of hollow. I’ve used that word hollow quite a lot lately as it feels like there’s a hollow place, a hole, inside¬†my chest. Good things and happy times are still happening but they just don’t feel the same.

At the end of the song 100 years, the lyrics go like this:

“Fifteen there’s still time for you
Twenty two I feel her too
Thirty three you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day….
….Fifteen there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live”

The line “Every day’s a new day” has always resonated with me. No matter what the past years have been like, no matter what today has brought, no matter the good times or the bad, every day is a new day. Barb believed in the hope of the new day and she lived out¬†that hope each¬†and every day. Through the years of raising our kids,¬†during the challenges of our marriage,¬†and through her months of living with cancer. She never lost the hope of a new day.

Two of Barb’s go to scripture verses were Lamentations 3:22-23:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

I’ve also learned to¬†go to these verses during times of doubt, fear, and loss. Who wouldn’t want mercy and compassion every new morning. And to know that the one who created all things and holds the future in His hands is faithful. Faithful to me and to you. That is where we find the hope and strength to move on to the new day and live.

Those of you that have wished me a Happy 58th Birthday today, I truly do thank you. Your kindness helps to fill that hollow feeling I have.¬†Will I live to be 100? I don’t know and honestly don’t really mind if I don’t. I’m going to greet each new morning one at a time and let each new day come to me as it may.¬†And make that not just my¬†wish but my way of living.¬†When you’ve only got hundred years to live.

See you down the road.